North America Will Launch Its First Zero-Emission Train This Summer

The hydrogen-powered rail will only emit water vapor while shuttling between destinations in Canada.

A blue hydrogen-powered train on a track running along a coast.

The new hydrogen-powered trains emit only water vapor.

Courtesy of Train de Charlevoix

Just over a decade in the making, a hydrogen-powered train will start moving passengers between much-loved Canadian destinations as of June. It’s the first zero-emissions train in all of North America.

Known as Train de Charlevoix, it will link two hugely popular Quebec tourist destinations: Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (a park with a nearly 300-foot waterfall just outside of Quebec City and Baie-Saint-Paul (a town on the St. Lawrence River that’s known for its mountains and art galleries). A one way journey will take about 90 minutes, emitting only water vapor as it runs on green hydrogen.

The train was developed by French green energy producer Alstom. Hydrogen power is an alternative to traditional gas that uses hydrogen and oxygen as the electrical energy to power the trains. The train runs at a maximum speed of roughly 85 miles per hour.

Very little of the world’s rail system operates electrically—most trains run on diesel, which has proven damaging to the environment—however, this new train demonstrates a viable alternative. They’re the second of their kind—last August, Germany launched its Cordadia iLint (also made by Alstom), the first hydrogen-powered passenger trains, which replaced 14 diesel trains that previously operated in the state of Lower Saxony.

The debut season of Train de Charlevoix runs June 17—October 22, 2023. The train departs from Quebec City at 9 a.m. and pull out of Baie-Saint-Paul station at 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday (think of this as a leisure rail rather than commuter). Going in each direction, the train will stop at seven riverside towns (including Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupre, Petite Riviere-Saint-Francois, and Le Massif, among others). Round-trip tickets start at $99 for adults and $69 for children (seats on the river-facing side of the train are an additional $10).

Through the summer season, the train will also offer an Eco-Agro tour, where guides will take passengers to three local breweries to sample beer flights and learn about the brewing process in this region and how they’re working to be more sustainable.

Tickets are available on traindecharlevoix.com.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR
From Our Partners